A capillary-based model system for hydrodynamic spreading in porous media

Qierui Zhang

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterAcademic


CHARACTERIZING THE WETTING PROPERTIES OF SOFT POROUS MATERIAL USING A WASHBURN-LIKE APPROACHLubricating grease is a two-phase soft material consisting of a thickener matrix that providesmechanical strength and mobile base oil. The matrix acts as a reservoir that slowly releases the oilduring years of bearing operation. Despite the fact that the reliability of most mechanical machinerycrucially depends on the lifetime of bearings and their lubrication, the process of oil retention andrelease by the grease matrix is very poorly understood[1].In this project, we facilitate the oil-release by extracting the oil from the grease using filter paper.Taken into account the heterogeneity of the pores sizes in the paper[2], the mass of oil imbibed bythe paper is quantified by measuring the transmitted light intensity[3] using a modified Lambert-Beerrelation. The imbibition timescale from the grease is found to be of 2 orders of magnitude longerthan that of a drop of the same base oil. The slow oil release results from the high affinity betweenthe grease matrix and the oil, leading to a pressure gradient (~ 5kPa) opposite to the direction of theextraction flow. To quantify this wetting affinity, we developed a Washburn-like model in which bothgrease and paper are described as porous media. The creeping oil flow is driven by the difference inwetting properties of the grease matrix and the paper. Furthermore, we found that the imbibitiondynamics depends on the oil content of the grease. Even a slight increase (~0.2%) of the wettingenergy volume can lead to an increase of a factor 2 in the timescale of imbibition.Figure 1 The amount of oil adsorbed in the paper versus time from an oil drop and from de-saturatedgrease patches (from top to bottom the saturation level decreases from 100% to 65%)REFERENCES:1. Lugt P. M. ‘A review on grease lubrication in rolling bearings’ Tribology transactions, 2009,4, 470-480.2. Danino D. and Marmur, A. ‘Radial capillary penetration into paper: limited and unlimitedliquid reservoir’ Journal of colloid and interfaces science, 1994, 166(1), 245-250.3. Gillespie T. ‘The spreading of low vapour pressure liquids in paper’ Journal of colloid science,1958, 13(1), 32-50.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2019
EventDroplets 2019 - Durham, United Kingdom
Duration: 16 Sept 201918 Sept 2019


ConferenceDroplets 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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